One Very Long But Fun Road Trip

It’s been a crazy year for all of us girls so we decided that to celebrate our joys and sorrows, we’ll do something extra special this year – nothing drastic, but something that would actually require us to spend an entire day doing nothing. 
 
Which almost didn’t happen. Almost half had to cancel, and I was nursing a three-day old fever which surprisingly disappeared on the day itself (although I had to down three tabs of bioflu which left me groggy for most of the day and still stuck with super clogged nose and impaired hearing as I type this). 
 
Anyway, after a short drive on a traffic-free Saturday, we finally reached Chateau Hestia, a rustic little garden restaurant/deli serving European specialties. 
 
I swear, I’m a sucker for these places – I find the secluded beauty very romantic. 
 

 
 
 
We munched on these toasted bread with pate.
We had a pretty heavy breakfast on our way to Tagaytay but still, we ordered enough food to feed an army. 
 
We started off with Ragu Alla Bolognese – a rich tomato-based pasta with stewed ground beef and basil, and Say Cheese – a thin crust pizza with nothing but a rich mix of mozzarella, gorgonzolla, pecorino and lots of other cheeses.The pasta I’m not so fond of (but then, I was never a big pasta fan though I can cook a mean one), but the pizza was surprisingly good. I was expecting the mix of various cheeses to be too rich and overpowering but I really liked it. It melted perfectly in my mouth and for once, I didn‘t even need hot sauce with my pizza.
 
For our main course, we feasted on Osso Buco Milanesea traditional Italian dish made of beef shanks cooked in tomato sauce and served with mashed potato and buttered veggies, and Crusted Salmon – fillet salmon flavored with lemon, pepper and paprika. I didn‘t really like the salmon dish as it didn’t taste fresh and the fish had a leathery feel to it, and quite hard.
 
Clockwise from top: Crusted Salmon, Ragu Alla Bolognese, Osso Buco Milanese, and Say Cheese pizza
 Up next – our favorite part of any meal: dessert!!! 
 
What to order was really a no-brainer when we saw that they had gelato. Our dilemma was which flavors to get since we were too full to order one each. We finally settled on Turtle Pie and Pastillas de Ube. 
 
My verdict? Love. My friends were unanimous in choosing the pastillas de ube, with its creamy texture and rich ube flavour but I would have to go with the turtle pie, which, I was told is their best seller. I loved the play of milky goodness with the grainy feel of the nuts. I know ice cream is supposed to melt in your mouth but I just have to stress that this is melt-in-your-mouth goodness.  
 

So good was the gelato that I found Mauro’s Cioccolato Souffle kind of bland although I did love the chocolate filling.

And what better way to end our happy little meal than with tea?  I miss tea with honey. It reminds me of my childhood – when my mama and papa would make us all drink chocolate drink mixed with Aunt Sue’s honey. Back then, we didn’t use sugar a lot – instead using honey to sweeten our milk, juice, and practically whatever drink we had.

Chamomile and Green tea with lemon, mixed with a tiny jar of honey.
 All that food left us wanting to stretch a bit before we go to our next stop, so we browsed a little in their little deli – a sort of Santi’s tuck in the middle of a lush garden. It had all those cheeses and cold cuts, and imported snacks for sale, as well as various wines. They also carry Le Petit Paradis bath products – the cashier told us Derek Ramsay’s parents own this brand and are friends with the owners of the Chateau. Anyway, it was my first time to see banana shampoo and conditioner so I was really tempted to try it but I decided to get the rose variant because I am so predictable (in case you’ve forgotten, I have a long-standing love affair with roses).
 
 
 
 
 My girlfriends from two companies ago. Aren‘t they so fasyown? Hahaha!
 
Well, being the one wielding the camera has its downside so I only have few decent photos of myself but here’s one of our “family” pics:
 
 
Our next stop: one of my favorite places this side of the Philippines – Sonya’s Garden. I‘ve been away from this place too long. Have I really been that busy?
 

Little set-ups like this makes this place so special. There is nothing contrived and the place is both homey and ethereal to me.
 Products used at the Spa can be bought at the Country Store – and I was so in love with the smell of gugo used on my hair spa treatment that I had to get a bottle for myself. 
 
 
It was getting a little bit dark by the time we finished our pampering treatments so we decided to have snacks at Bag of Beans before heading back to the hustle and bustle of Manila. 
 
Leah and I agreed to split a serving of piping hot apple shepherd’s pie – hitting two birds with one stone actually, with one for our main course, and the other dessert. Hahaha! The apple pie was divine but I prefer Mom and Tina’s shepherd’s pie, which, hand’s down, is the best I’ve tasted so far, here or anywhere.

 

And I just had to have a cold glass of melon shake in the chilly weather. Heaven!

 Here’s to almost a decade of friendship! Merry Christmas!
 
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